Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Accuracy’ Category

When news organizations correct errors, we should not mislead readers.

That sounds like an obvious statement, but it’s actually the topic of a debate on Twitter that I’ve joined today. I should preface this by noting that the people I’m arguing this topic with are friends and outstanding journalists whom I respect. But they are wrong about this.

Here’s the situation: When newspapers (and perhaps other news organizations) correct errors, we tend not to place blame. But when an editor adds an error to a reporter’s story, the correction misleads, implying to any readers who read bylines that the reporter erred. The correction is also misleading to sources, who usually know who the writer was and regularly make decisions about whether and how much to trust reporters.

On its surface, this feels like a journalists’ argument about how many angels (or perhaps devils, in this case) can dance on the head of a pin. Good friends have dismissed my suggestion on Twitter today as “finger-pointing.”

But when you take a phone call from an angry son whose living father was identified by an editor’s insertion into your story as “the late,” you see that this is not a trivial matter and it’s not about finger-pointing. It’s about accuracy. And responsibility. And accountability. (more…)

Read Full Post »

I am leading some workshops for the Southern Regional Press Institute at Savannah State University today. 

I participated in a panel discussion on “Ethics, Urgency and Accuracy” this morning.

Here are some links relating to ethics, urgency and accuracy (I made some of the points you’ll see in these links).

How to verify information from tweets: Check it out

Suggestions for new guiding principles for the journalist

My version of Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist

The Verification Handbook is now available

I led a morning workshop on using Twitter to cover breaking news. In addition to the links above, this workshop covered information from these workshops:

Denver Post staffers’ #theatershooting coverage demonstrates Twitter breaking news techniques

You don’t tip competitors on Twitter; you beat them

Twitter is an essential reporting tool

Here are my slides for that workshop (I developed them knowing we weren’t likely to cover all the topics. We covered the first three and skipped to verification):

I developed these slides to use in either the panel discussion or the breaking-news workshop. I ended up using them to wrap up the breaking-news workshop:

I also will lead an afternoon workshop on showcasing your work and your skills in a digital portfolio. This workshop is based primarily on this blog post:

Use digital tools to showcase your career and your work

The workshop also will cover points made in some of these posts:

Your digital profile tells people a lot

Randi Shaffer shows a reason to use Twitter: It can help land your first job

Elevate your journalism career

Tips on landing your next job in digital journalism

Job-hunting advice for journalists selling skills in the digital market

Here are my slides for that workshop:

Read Full Post »

Verification HandbookI was honored to have been involved in the writing of The Verification Handbook, which is available now as an ebook.

I’ll blog more about it later after I read the other chapters (I wrote one chapter). For right now, I’ll say:

  • Congratulations to Project Manager Rina Tsubaki and Editor Craig Silverman. It was a pleasure to work with you.
  • Thanks for involving me.
  • I’m delighted that this book is geared not just at journalists, but emergency workers, humanitarian organizations and others who gather and distribute information, especially in crises.
  • For more on the vide0-documentation story I told in my chapter, check out my recent blog post on that story.

Read Full Post »

John Kroll, photo linked from johnkrolldigital.com

John Kroll advises journalists to fact-check by asking the 5 W’s when we’re reporting on statistics that sources cite.

The truth is that many statistics cited in news stories are not fully vetted by journalists. Someone we regard as knowledgeable cites a figure and we parrot it.

But we should always ask the most important verification question: How do you know that? And too often, as John points out in asking the 5 W’s about a bogus but oft-cited stat about 100,000 Christians being killed for their faith every year, the answer is that the source doesn’t really know.

Truthfulness and verification are the core of good journalism. John gives some excellent advice for verifying numbers and getting closer to the truth.

Read Full Post »

Verification HandbookI’m pleased to be involved in the Verification Handbook, a new project to help journalists and aid providers sort fact from fake.

The handbook is a project of the European Journalism Centre and is edited by Craig Silverman, with whom I’ve collaborated before in accuracy workshops.

I wrote Chapter 2, “Verification Fundamentals: Rules to Live By.” Other chapter authors, in addition to Craig, are Rina Tsubaki of EJC, Claire Wardle and Malachy Browne of Storyful, Trushar Barot of BBC News, Mathew Ingram of GigaOm, Patrick Meier of the Qatar Computing Research Institute and Sarah Knight of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

The Digital First editor needs to lead the staff in mastering the art of reporting the unfolding story accurately.

Your staff needs to understand that getting-it-first and getting-it-right are not conflicting choices but essential dual priorities. If you don’t have it right, you don’t have it first – you don’t have it at all. But you work to get it right quickly. Your staff needs to work urgently to report news as you verify facts.

Demand verification. Ask frequently, “How do you know that?” Then ask, “How else do you know that?” (I’m not sure which journalist first started stressing the first question, but I first heard the “How else …” question from Rosalie Stemer.)

Much attention lately has been paid to the importance of verifying information from social media. You need to demand verification in all situations: not just information reported in tweets, but information from routine sources and from unnamed sources. You don’t just accept the he-said-she-said story from reporters; you insist that they dig past the conflicting stories and report the truth. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Verification of information gathered through social media is one of the most pressing matters in journalism today.

Josh Stearns has done the most comprehensive job I have seen of compiling links to tips, blog posts, examples and case studies relating to social-media verification. This will be my reading list for the next few weeks, so I thought I’d share it.

(Thanks to Josh for the shoutout and for the link to my tips on verifying information from tweets.)

Read Full Post »

Journalists should treat information we gather on social media the same way we treat information gathered any other way, or an assurance from Mom that she loves you: Check it out.

My #twutorial series hasn’t been updated since late October, but I always planned to do a post on verifying information gathered in social media. Given the errors some journalists made in reporting on the Sandy Hook massacre and in the original reporting on Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend, this feels like a good time to stress accuracy and verification.

The most simple and important advice I can give is that Twitter is like any other information source — documents, anonymous tips, news releases, press conferences, interviews, databases — it can provide valuable information or deliberate lies or innocent errors. Your job is to verify the information that looks useful. As with all the other information you gather, you can verify lots of different ways, and no single technique works for everything.

Some of the tips I provide here will be specific to Twitter or to social media generally. Some will be general verification tips applied to Twitter. And I’m sure I won’t cover all the ways you could verify information from tweets. As with all reporting, resourcefulness is essential. Develop some verification techniques of your own (and please remember to share them in the comments here). (more…)

Read Full Post »

Narrative journalism will survive the Manti Te’o hoax. In fact, the sports stories that spouted and perpetuated the lies of the hoax were not narrative journalism. They were shallow journalism.

Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden imagines that the backlash against sportswriters who failed to check out things they were told about Te’o’s fake girlfriend may “lead to fewer narrative stories, period, and that would not be such a great thing.”

The notion that coverage of the fake girlfriend’s death was narrative journalism is as bogus as her car crash, her leukemia, her Stanford enrollment or her death.

Here are a couple of key passages from Layden’s lament (Layden responded to my post on Twitter; I have embedded our Twitter exchange later in this post): (more…)

Read Full Post »

For a reporter seeking information about someone who died, the lack of an obituary, or even a death notice, should be a red flag.

But sometimes (clearly a small percentage of deaths) the red flag doesn’t mean the person wasn’t real; it’s an indication of how the newspaper business has changed.

This blog post isn’t much at all about Manti Te’o, though it grew from the post I wrote yesterday about linking and its role in the journalists’ falling for the dead-girlfriend hoax. I said that journalists should provide relevant links in their stories, and the lack of an obituary to link to should have alerted reporters parroting the story of Lennay Kekua’s death that more research was needed.

“Who dies without an obituary?” I asked. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This is a guest post by Jeff Edelstein, columnist at the Trentonian (who’s appeared in this blog before), prompted by these tweets and an email exchange following my blog post about linking and the Manti Te-0 story:

I asked him if he’d like to write a guest post about his fact-checking experience. Here it is (links added by me):

Jeff Edelstein

Jeff Edelstein

It was my first job in journalism. Fact checker for New Jersey Monthly Magazine. I was 19. (Yes, yes, this is about Manti Te’o. Bear with me.)

So yeah. A fact checker. The job was exactly what it sounded like. I checked facts. An article would be assigned, the writer would write, it would go through at least two edits, and then it would land in my hands. Sometimes the author was kind enough to provide phone numbers and relevant materials, other times I had to call the author and beg them for phone numbers and relevant materials.

Fact checkers are not universally loved. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Last year I blogged about four reasons linking is good journalism. Make it five.

Journalists who practice thorough linking to provide context and attribution for their stories (two of the four reasons I cited) would have learned pretty quickly that crucial facts about Manti Te’o‘s purported girlfriend couldn’t be verified.

Or journalists following Craig Silverman‘s advice on using an accuracy checklist (or using my checklist, adapted from Craig’s) would have found lots of red flags and no verification. (I’ll concentrate on linking here, but I see points on both of our checklists that might have helped a journalist see that something was wrong.)

If you care about accuracy in journalism and if you want to see an excellent example of journalism (exposing several shameful examples of journalism), read the Deadspin investigation of the Notre Dame football star’s fictitious girlfriend. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,070 other followers